“You can’t just write for connoisseurs and colleagues today,” says Jörg Widmann, who has been causing a sensation with his immensely colourful works for many years. “For me, the main drive to compose always comes from emotion.” As a composer, clarinetist and conductor, Widmann is a musical all-rounder – yet it was the instrument that brought him to composing: “I used to improvise and get annoyed the next day that I couldn’t remember what I had composed the day before.”
Jörg Widmann started composition lessons at the age of eleven – first from Kay Westermann, and later from Hans Werner Henze, Wilfried Hiller, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm. He also studied clarinet under Gerd Starke in Munich and Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School in New York, soon establishing himself as one of the most sought-after virtuosos of his generation. As a keen chamber musician, he regularly performs with artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Tabea Zimmermann, Sir András Schiff as well as with the Hagen and Schumann quartets. In addition, he makes guest appearances as a soloist and conductor with international orchestras. He is currently principal conductor of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Widmann was professor of clarinet and composition at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg. In 2017, he took on a professorship in composition at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin. In addition to numerous stage works such as the opera [Babylon] based on a libretto by Peter Sloterdijk, he has composed chamber and vocal music, piano pieces as well as ensemble and orchestral works. This also includes the piano concerto written for Yefim Bronfman on behalf of the Berliner Philharmoniker [Trauermarsch] which was premiered under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle in 2014. Also commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker was his composition [Tanz auf dem Vulkan], which Rattle presented with the orchestra in 2018. In the 2023/24 season, Jörg Widmann is the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Composer in Residence and will appear in all three roles as composer, clarinetist and conductor.